I first became ‘politically aware’ in the fifth grade. I’m not exactly sure why, but I was a Bob Dole fanatic. Seriously, I had his campaign poster in my room, made little Bob Dole political hats to wear around, and was devastated when he lost to President Clinton.
Of course, I don’t know when my child will feel the same way, or if he or she ever even will. But I can remember taking an American government class in high school and learning that the number one factor that determines a child’s political ideology is influences from family and friends.
As a parent, it’s a very important role we play in our children’s lives. We mold its mind, and not just in its overall development. Child look to their parents for a blueprint to life (sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so…). My parents (and especially my dad’s side) lean to the right. My grandfather was a Republican county commission for 16 years. Not surprisingly, I’ve found myself on the right side of the aisle more often than not.
That said, my parents never pushed me one way or the other. What they did do, was instill in me a sense of responsibility to my friends, family, and country; that I was not to rely on others or the government to get me through life. They taught that respecting others, and especially those different than me, was paramount; that I was never permitted to look upon others with disdain or contempt because they had a different skin color, or religion, or sexual orientation.
And that’s our job as parents. To teach them tolerance and respect. To help them learn and development personal responsibility. To take pride in their country and participate in the democratic process.
I want my child to understand these things. My son or daughter will be born under the administration of the first African-American president in history. I hope in my child’s lifetime they will see a woman elected president. I hope they will see and celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage. I hope they will grow up to be responsible, alert citzens.
But most of all, I hope that all parents can instill in their children what it means to be a citizen of this country. And perhaps then, this world can become a better place. President Obama has asked us to do our part. So I am.